The BBC is reporting a new study that suggests children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to do well – up to twice as well – in end of primary school assessments than those who do not.
…The Cardiff University study asked 5,000 nine to 11-year-olds to list what they ate in 24 hours.
The study involved more than 100 primary schools in Wales and built on research started 10 years ago.
It found eating unhealthy items such as sweets and crisps for breakfast, reported by one in five children, had no positive impact on how they performed in tests.
Pupils were asked to list all food and drink consumed over a period of just over 24 hours.
Their results in Key Stage 2 teacher assessments were then followed up by researchers between six and 18 months later.
The odds of achieving an above average performance was up to twice as high for pupils who ate breakfast, compared with those who did not.
Alongside the number of healthy breakfast items, other dietary behaviours – including number of sweet and crisps, and fruit and vegetable portions consumed throughout the rest of the day – were all significantly and positively associated with educational performance.
Researchers claim the findings, published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, could have big implications for policymakers.
Lead author Hannah Littlecott, from Cardiff University, said the odds of achieving above average performance were up to twice as high for pupils who ate a healthy breakfast than for those who did not.
She said schools might see dedicating time towards improving health as an “unwelcome diversion” from teaching.
“Clearly, embedding health improvements into the core business of the school might also deliver educational improvements as well,” she said.
Co-author Dr Graham Moore said the data provided “robust evidence of a link between eating breakfast and doing well at school”.
In Wales, most primary schools offer a free school breakfast funded by the Welsh government…
Read or download the report in full:S1368980015002669a
This sounds extremely convincing but there seems to be a major caveat in that the research does not establish whether this is a causal relationship or a correlation. In other words, are those being given a healthy breakfast the same children likely to do better in tests in the first place because of other factors (for example, because they have better educated parents)?
Likewise, it makes no attempt to assess whether changing the breakfast/diet of those currently doing less well would improve their performance in any way.
What do you think?
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